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Beyond ‘Terrorism’ and ‘State Hegemony’: assessing the Islamist mainstream in Egypt and Malaysia

This paper argues that both the self-proclaimed doctrinal Islam of the militants and Western perceptions of a homogeneous Islamist threat need to be deconstructed in order to discover the often ambiguous manifestations of ‘official’ and ‘opposition’ Islam, of modernity and conservatism. As a comparison of two Islamic countries, Egypt and Malaysia, which both claim a leading role in their respective regions, shows, moderate Islamic groups have had a considerable impact on processes of democratisation and the emergence of civil society during the quarter century since the ‘Islamic resurgence’. 

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Political Islam and Malaysian Democracy

Source Democratization, Vol.13, No.3, June 2006, pp.421–441. 

Abstract: This study uses the history of Malaysian democracy to explore questions about the relationship between changing social structures and Islamic discourses in shaping the prospects for further democratization in the Muslim world. Social and historical factors have created incentives for a less authoritarian and more economically successful political economy than in much of the Muslim world, but Malaysia remains at best a semi-democracy. The primary reason for that is a complex structure of ethnic cleavage and ethnic accommodation. However, as economic pressures have undermined the traditional system of ethnic economic preference, the importance of Islamic politics has been a key intervening variable in preventing the emergence of a more liberal opposition to the ruling political coalition.

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